Why Would I Do it Now When I Could Do it Later?

Procrastination: it doesn’t seem very efficient. As I procrastinated writing this blog post, along with all of my other assignments in the home stretch of my last semester, I thought about how much I would regret my past decisions of not working in the near future.

In behavioral economics, these decisions are posed as problems of “intertemporal choice.” There is a distinction between the decisions we make in the present and those we foresee in the future. One article delves into this issue, which the author calls “The Seductive-Now Moment.” People would rather have instant gratification and devalue both the consequences and benefits that today’s actions have on tomorrow. Everyone devalues the future; but aggressively devaluing it characterizes the irrational behavior of procrastination.

One solution to these time-inconsistent preferences, another article suggests, is “to bring future benefits closer to the present or to magnify the costs of delayed action.” These authors bring up the idea of visualization to make the future feel closer to the present. As you’re pushing aside projects and opening up Netflix, it may help to imagine the joy of completing the assignment and closing all the research tabs instead of the limited satisfaction of just minimizing them.

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